INOLA — Cassie Clarke scored 30 points and Tiffani Nelms added 13 as the Verdigris Lady Cardinals turned back Siloam Springs, Ark., 56-47, Saturday night to capture the Jerry Oquin high school girls Basketball Tournament championship.
Clarke hit the game's first four points and the final nine team scores as the 4-0 Verdigris girls never trailed. Each of the nine points came at the free-throw line.
During a full day of high school basketball in the spacious Longhorn gym, six games were played on Saturday. Four Rogers County teams saw action the final day.
In boys' action, Coweta took the championship trophy by stopping Fort Gibson, 60-54. Siloam Springs took third place by defeating Oologah, 50-41, and Grove, winning 59-49 over Stilwell, finished fifth.
In the girls' competition, Grove edged Oologah, 56-49, for third. The tournament's most exciting finish came in the fifth-place contest. Inola's Mary Grigg hit three straight free throws with two seconds to play and lifted the host Lady Longhorns over Stilwell, 62-61.
All 16 of Verdigris' fourth-quarter points were the result of free throws. Siloam, entering the game with a 5-1 record, never had the lead in the title contest. The visitors were able to knot the score at four near the start and again at 17 with 2:31 before half.
It appeared the Lady Cardinals might be in trouble at the start of the final period. Tiffany Casteel pulled Siloam to within 40-38 with a layup. But that proved to be the last hope.
Nelms was fouled and promptly nailed two free throws. Kait Heskett followed with two more and Nelms came back for another three. Now, instead of a two-point edge, Verdigris led by 10, 48-38.
It was a rough day for both Oologah teams. In the boys' pairing, Jeff White had 14 points and Drew Wright had 11, but the Mustangs couldn't overtake Siloam Springs. The Arkansas team built a 27-18 first-half edge and made it stand firm.
The Oologah girls had a fourth-quarter meltdown. Behind a 19-point performance by Kali Bassett, Grove outscored the Lady Mustangs, 16-6, in the final period.
The Inola girls, against Grove, took a solid lead into the fourth quarter and appeared well on their way to a victory. Grove, with four players in double scoring figures, rallied back and had a two-point advanage in the closing seconds.
For Grove, however, victory wasn't to be.
Inola also had four players in double figures. Mary Grigg was the last to reach that mark and her timing was perfect.
As the clock was running down and Inola behind, 61-59, Grigg tried for a winning three-point shot from the field. It failed, but the Lady Longhorn was fouled. She was awarded three free throws.
The 5-4 senior stepped to the line. Her first shot pulled Inola to within one point, her second tied the score, and her third won it.
Verdigris 56, Siloam Springs 47
Verdigris 13 13 14 16 — 56
Siloam Springs 8 1117 11 — 47
Verdigris — Clarke 30, Nelms 13, K. Heskett 6, Mitchell 4, Weber 3.
Siloam Springs — Larkin 17, Casteel 7, Goddard 5, Ferguson 4, Berlin 4, Allison 4, Shimer 4, Cleek 2.
Grove 56, Oologah 49
Girls, third place
Grove 14 7 19 16 — 56
Oologah 12 11 20 6 — 49
Grove — Bassett 19, Iverson 18, Bowen 9, Deaton 7, Creason 3
Oologah — Young 11, Hotfelt 9, Linihan 8, Haines 8, Jeffs 6, Dillman 5, Parker 2.
Inola 62, Stilwell 61
Girls, fifth place
Inola 10 14 14 23 — 61
Stilwell 7 21 16 18 — 62
Stilwell — Miller 17, J. Doyle 13, Muskich 12, Fountain 12, Watie 4, K. Doyle 3.
Inola — Maldonaldo 15, Sears 12, Unruh 12, Mary Grigg 11, Mandy Grigg 9, Houck 2, Cooper 1.
Siloam Springs 50, Oologah 41
Boys, third place
Siloam Springs 15 12 9 14— 50
Oologah 10 8 12 11 — 41
Siloam Springs — Rakestraw 19, Ostrander 8, Barnett 8, Kroner 6, Eshnaur 5, Cleveland 3, Hubbard 1.
Oologah — White 14, Melton 11, Wright 6, Barnett 4, Payne 2, Toutt 2, Semoff 1, Keith 1.